Easter weekend was a four-day holiday here in Namibia and I used the time to move to my new housing and settle in. I moved just across the road from Cheshire Home, into a room attached to the Conference Center that the sisters have. At first, I thought it was small (though bigger than the room where I was), but once I got here and unpacked all my stuff (for the first time since arriving in Namibia), I realized it was perfect. Everything fits—I even have a couple of empty drawers. There is enough space to do yoga. I have a little galley kitchen and there is even space to tuck away my suitcase and backpack.
It’s my little cell.
Then one afternoon, I looked out my door and saw this tree (see photo). Such a beautiful tree and I have a perfect view of it. To me it feels both strong and gentle.
So, even though I am still quite far from town (5km), I am happy in my room and I feel greatly relieved to unpack everything and be able to get on with my life. Besides, it was like Christmas—I suddenly had all these new clothes to wear! I broke out my knives—oh so much nicer to cook with! I set up my little altar and meditation cushion. And I have this cool little pocket projector which is perfect for watching movies and TV shoes off my netbook (whose screen is a bit lacking for video). So I hook up the pocket projector, plug the netbook into my Logitech iPod speakers and I have an extremely portable and more than adequate “home theatre” system. Yes, yes, I do love the perfect gadget.
Now I just need to get a bike. I was going to trade-in a bike that Caprivi Hope for Life has (which hasn’t been used) for another, but the store manager is giving me the runaround. Then I was thinking I’d just buy one myself. Wednesday, I have to go to Windhoek (and then Tsumeb) for session two of our In-country training, so I will look at “real” bikes then and decide whether I’ll buy one there or come back and just buy a cheap one here. While I’m in Windhoek, I also hope to buy accounting software for Caprivi Hope for Life – so badly needed, they don’t really have any accounting system at all at the moment. And I may buy some clothes, or more specifically Capri pants, because I’ve lost so much weight that clothes I had bought new when I was in the US now fall off me (except for one pair of pants I got at REI which were so stretchy I could buy them small). It’s too bad. I have these two pair of North Face pants which are really nice, but I really can’t wear them. I should have known by the size but somehow I convinced myself that I had not gained that much weight, they had just changed their sizing (hmm). And now I’m as thin as I’ve ever been in my life and nope, can’t wear that size, even if they have a drawstring I can tie tight.
I’ve been listening to tons of podcasts in my free time. Mostly about running—Phedippidations, RunRunLive, The Runner’s Roundtable, Endurance Planet; health and fitness—Two Fit Chicks and a Microphone, The Healthy Skeptic, Healthy Mind, Fit Body; Paleo lifestyle—The Paleo Solution, Everyday Paleo; and NPR—Africa topics, Religion topics, Music topics, Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, This American Life, Sunday Puzzle, Fresh Air, News from Lake Wobegon. Catching up on (in some cases) a year’s worth of episodes. It’s great because I feel like I am reconnecting with old friends. One thing I wish I could find is a podcast community in the domain of spirituality like the RunNet community. As far as I can tell, though, those in the spiritual/religious/church realm are using “new media” in the “old media” paradigm—to broadcast. Or it’s all about making money. I haven’t found anything that’s very interactive, open, creating a space for conversation. But people get so positional about theology, spirituality, etc. maybe it’s not possible to actually create virtual community as has been possible in so many other domains.
Caprivi Hope for Life had a visit from USAID—at 7:30 in the morning (ugh). It went well, I thought. Our program coordinator did a good presentation which was well-received (the woman from USAID asked great questions after) and one of our youth groups got together early in the morning so she could observe a session. It was really good because one of the young women had been in our recent household session where we demonstrated how to use a Femidom and she got up and did the demonstration for the youth group and did a great job. Everyone watched in rapt attention. After that (the same day), was the RACOC meeting (Regional Aids Coordinating Committee). That was a bit hilarious because the guy who ran the meeting is quite a character, a bit preachy and not terribly organized as a meeting leader. But overall, I was impressed with how well people worked together. The only thing that was a bit disheartening was to see that there are so few civil society organizations working on HIV & AIDS in a part of the world that has one of the highest infection rates. They distributed the report with the 2010 statistics. In the Caprivi region, 35% of pregnant women test positive for HIV in 2010. In that environment, there are 2 organizations focused on Home-Based care, and two (including Caprivi Hope for Life) focused on Behavior Change. Anti-retroviral drugs are readily available and the health care system here is much better than most places in Africa. Free condoms are also easy to get (though not as “cool” as the others one pays for). But the culture here is such that everyone—male and female—has multiple sexual partners (whether married or not). That is the norm and there remains much misinformation and ignorance which all contributes to the rapid spread of the disease. The only good thing the statistics show is that perhaps the rate of new infections is slowing. . .
Our program is aimed at having people realize their personal risk. This is quite important because everyone knows all the basic information about HIV & AIDS. Unfortunately, knowing this information does not change behavior because everyone (and this seems to be universally human) believes that it won’t affect them. “Oh, it’s too bad about those poor people who get infected.” “It’s a woman’s disease.” “My partner/husband/wife would never do that to me.” I can’t gauge how effective our project is, but it is focused in the right direction.